SL Tips: Getting Started

red white blue starsYou may have noticed our location in the list of state blogs is south of Pennsylvania and north of South Carolina. In reality, we are located in “virtual” reality (second star to the right and straight on till morning) but as near as your own back yard. Some of you have visited this land already, but others of you may be just wondering if you even want to add an expedition into uncharted territory into your ever so busy lives.This post, the first in a series of SL Tips, (or SL’ips) is for you who have never ventured to the shores of Second Life. You don’t need any magic dust, or happy thoughts (Wait – We do want happy thoughts!).  Getting started is easy and we want you to be a part of the action as the DEN in SL sets out in a new direction with a variety of activities to enhance your professional life and your “second” life.

As we head toward the end of the school year, this may be a perfect time to think about pumping up your PLN over the summer using Second Life. On June 16 the DEN will hold a session to help current users (residents) of SL become acclimated to Viewer 2. But if you have not yet joined us in SL here is a little step-by-step to creating an avatar and having him/her poised and ready to join us at our Viewer 2 orientation. The process has gotten easier and easier, and it will probably take a total of ten minutes to get you “in world”. Questions? This way please.

To be honest, I’m not really sure
what Second Life is!

SL is a MUVE (multi-user virtual environment). In this 3-D virtual community members create a customized avatar to represent themselves and move about in the virtual world.

So what can I actually do there?

Educators are able to join existing groups or create their own. They can attend information and sharing sessions, learn to create objects in Second Life, host or attend meetings, and socialize with other educators. The Second Life educational community merely extends professional development and camaraderie into a virtual environment. And it can be lots of fun, too!

Maybe it’s too complicated. I’m not sure I have time for this virtual world stuff.

Everything gets easier the more you use it. Think of all the technology you use now that you didn’t use five years ago! We are here to help with tips and tricks, and in world how-to sessions.You won’t know what you’re missing until you give it a try!


1. Go to
2. Click “Join Now.”
3. Complete the top of the page with real life info. This is not ever visible to any other users of Second Life. No one will know your real name unless you choose to share it.
4. In the next section choose a name for your avatar. Enter a first name choice and then click “Find Last Name”. There will be 4 lists of possible last names to choose from. Don’t like any of the options? Click “Change” next to the first name and Find Last Names again. You will get an entirely different list. Do this several times if necessary until you find the perfect fit.

**CAUTION: Once you commit to a name for your avatar, you can’t change it, so be careful with spelling and capitalization. If you enter “mary” but really wanted “Mary”, once you say “Create Avatar” you will forever be known as “mary” lower case. Also, the less complicated your first name is the easier it will be for others to address you in typed chat conversations. They are likely to shorten any long name anyway.**

5. Select your starting avatar. This is only a jumping off point. Once in world you will be able to change hair, clothing, body characteristics (everything but your name).
6. Complete the security information. Then “Create Avatar”.
7. Congratulations! You are now an official “resident” of Second Life.

8. If you have not already done so, download a “viewer” to enter the world of SL. Back on the homepage, go to the Download Viewer option in the lower right. You will be downloading Viewer 2. (actually version is the currently available version.)There are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This viewer will allow you to navigate the “world”. Remember that we will be holding a session to get to know the ins and outs of Viewer 2 on June 16. Our next SL’ip will give you info on Viewer 2 to get ready for our upcoming session.

9. Once you are ready to run the application, sign in with the first and last name of your newly created avatar and your chosen password. You will find yourself on one of many Welcome Islands. There are six stations that will give you basic information on things like how to walk, fly, chat, sit and use camera zoom. (Seen above) In the final station  seen below you can choose your destination. When you select one of those options a map will appear. If you choose Teleport you will immediately be transported to the location of your choice. However, you may want to enter a different location in the “Find” space (circled in red) such as Eduisland 2 (takes you to DEN headquarters) or ISTE Island (lots of help info) or even a location such as Priceless where you can find avatar freebies.

Next week’s Sl’ip will delve into some basics on Viewer 2 and don’t forget our Viewer 2 orientation session on June 16. It will probably be a little harder for us old dogs to learn the new tricks of Viewer 2 than for new residents. But WE CAN, and WE WILL! The DEN in SL will be making lots of changes in the coming weeks, so we want you there to experience it all! Get your feet wet, and we will help you with the rest! 

Second Life  can extend the networking, communicating, and sharing that we know is so vital in education. Come be a part of the conversation. And please feel free to leave a comment or question regarding anything you may want us to focus on in our SL Tips, from the most basic to more complicated topics. Let us know what you need to make your SL experience a smooth one.

See you in world!


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  1. Guest said:

    Ok so here is my question. What if I signed up with Second Life a long time ago and now I want to know what real life information I provided when I signed up (name, address, ext.)because I simply don’t remember and it’s important for me to know now. I tried looking at my account page in the Second Life website but there was no such link to do so. Is there a way to know beside having to cancel my account and create a new one?

  2. Nancy Sharoff said:

    Just go to Second Life online, login with your Second Life username and password and click on ‘My Account’. You’ll be able to see all your information there.

    Hope this helps!


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